The Wisconsin MRSEC has developed research-inspired educational digital games that are each being played over 1900 times/week. Atom Touch teaches students about atom behavior, bonding, and forces. Crystal Cave lets students explore how molecules form repeating patterns to grow into large crystals. During development, local K-12 teachers provided input on how to make the games more engaging for student learning.
Over 90 people attending the 2017 Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall meeting practiced their science communication skills during two interactive, improv-based workshops presented by the Wisconsin MRSEC. The workshops were based upon the highly successful Improv to Improve Science communication and Teaching course for graduate students that Wisconsin MRSEC members co-developed with a Madison theater company and teach at UW-Madison. The workshops were designed to help MRS members practice communication skills, interact with audiences, and collaboratively develop an elevator pitch for their
own research projects. The workshop can be adapted to various time constraints, workshop objectives, and numbers of attendees and has been presented over a dozen times at UW-Madison.
Creating thin films using novel synthesis techniques is a key step in expanding the functionality of metal oxide materials. It is particularly important to create these oxides in new geometrical forms and with new compositions. Researchers and the Wisconsin MRSEC have developed ways to create new oxides by first synthesizing them in the amorphous form and subsequently crystallizing the deposited material, a process known as solid-phase epitaxy (SPE).
Three-dimensional metal oxide crystals with Madison MRSEC complex structures or compositions are challenging to prepare because it is difficult to
control nanoscale phenomena underlying crystal nucleation and growth. Researchers at the Wisconsin MRSEC have now made important steps in establishing this control in so-called “perovskite” complex oxide crystals, a class of materials with useful optical and electronic properties.
Graduate students from IRG1 of the Wisconsin MRSEC used MRSEC-developed educational materials in two Wisconsin outreach programs: Pre-college Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE) and Science Expeditions. These programs provide experiences that help students become
scientifically literate citizens and explore careers in science and engineering. The PEOPLE program has a proven record of increasing the rate at which minority and low-income high school students matriculate to colleges and universities.
Glasses are usually isotropic, with the molecules oriented in all directions, but anisotropic glasses with a preferred molecular orientation are better for
applications such as organic electronics. Liquid crystals (LCs) can have strong preferred orientation, but it has not been possible previously to take full advantage of that order in solid, glassy materials.
One of the main drawbacks of metallic glasses is their low thermodynamic stability, which limits their formability and service life. Recently, experiments by
members of the Wisconsin MRSEC showed that organic glasses with high thermodynamic stability can be synthesized via physical vapor deposition (PVD)
onto a substrate at a controlled temperature. Now, this team of researchers has used molecular dynamics simulations to predict that the same PVD methods can enhance the stability of metallic glasses.